Tips to keep current residential land projects moving forward swiftly and safely
By Mike Forsum
From work and employment to overall lifestyle, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of millions of people across the globe. Businesses, including homebuilders and developers, are no exception and the impacts have been felt.
While the foreseeable future remains unknown, there is one thing for sure that we do know: people are buying and will continue to buy homes. As remote work becomes the new normal and people spend an increasing amount of time at home, it remains one of the most valuable commodities, providing a sense of security you simply can’t find anywhere else.
At Landsea Homes, we’ve taken a multitude of steps to ensure that land development and our existing residential projects continue to move forward, even in these unprecedented times. New residents are relying on us to get them in their new homes as soon as possible, and it is incumbent upon us to do so in a safe and thoughtful manner. Here are a few tips to keep projects on track and moving forward swiftly and safely during this time.
While there will always be challenges, it’s how you proactively prepare for and deal with these challenges that will dictate the outcome and success of the project at hand.
Know the Regulations in your Local Market
We are closely monitoring local and national actions and policies with respect to COVID-19 and will continue to do so. When we’re working on getting a residential project through approvals, from permitting to the construction process, we communicate regularly with all involved, including city officials, to remain updated. It’s also important to know the protocols in place in each market, from model home operations to on-site building, to keep the project on schedule.
For example, we’ve noticed much stricter rules and regulations in California’s Bay Area than in other markets where we are building. However, we were still able to close on land for two new communities in the last six months there—Relevae at Wilder in Orinda and Verandah at Valley Oaks in Novato—by being informed.
Maintain Consistent and Clear Communication
Communication is vital to successful completion of any project. There are always challenges when it comes to construction, and even more so now that we’re in a pandemic. Keeping clear lines of communication between all those involved, from the construction and engineering teams to homebuyers and even people touring model homes, can help make the building process smoother. While in-person communication may be more difficult, make sure you’re using other methods for clear communication whether it be through phone calls, email or Zoom video conferencing. At this point, there is no such thing as over-communication.
Ensure Proper Health Safety Protocols are in Place
While it has always been a requirement to wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) on a construction site, the pandemic has added a host of new items and protocols to the list. Safety is our No. 1 priority, for all employees, people working on our projects, homeowners and homebuyers.
Enforcing proper health safety protocols on-site is key to ensuring building and construction timelines are met. On all job sites, workers are required to wear masks, practice proper social distancing where appropriate and clean shared equipment as necessary. If these procedures aren’t followed, it can lead to delays, creating a domino effect.
We’ve also been able to implement these same safety procedures throughout our organization, including in our sales offices and model homes. To ensure that our communities and homes remain a place of safety and comfort, we’ve limited model home tours to one group at a time, placed hand sanitizer stations in our sales offices and require the proper use of masks. Sales counselors are also available to assist potential buyers virtually and walk them through Matterport 3D floor plans and image galleries.
Regulate your Construction Schedule
At Landsea, we’ve executed a unique “stacking” construction schedule for all of our trade workers. Across our portfolio, a regulated construction schedule has helped us remain on schedule and not get further behind. While it may elongate the build cycle temporarily, it ultimately ensures each trade has enough dedicated time to complete the job (plumbing, drywall, roofing, etc.) correctly the first time around. By avoiding re-dos and unnecessary visits back to the site, you are saving time. It also keeps workers safe and guarantees they aren’t working in too close of quarters.
There’s no one surefire way to deal with all that’s going on in the residential land development and homebuilding industries right now. While there will always be challenges, it’s how you proactively prepare for and deal with these challenges that will dictate the outcome and success of the project at hand.
Mike Forsum is president and COO of corporate for Landsea Holdings Corporation. He is responsible for overseeing the company’s US and Corporate operations and assists in the development of strategic initiatives.